Archive for the ‘release feature’ Category



“Vivi had draped herself across the chaise longue, her lacy coverlet laid loosely about her. I wondered had Edna had done this before she left. I stirred and tried to sit, but found myself quite weak, my head yet swimming. I had rustled the covers, though, and the whispered sound apparently woke Vivienne for she sat up just then.”


“Vivienne was nothing but kind and gracious, and served me quite flawlessly. Grier made biscuits, especially for me, Vivi told me. There was ham and scrambled eggs and fresh peaches and cream. There was fresh churned butter and honey from the beehive for the biscuits. And glorious coffee.”


rem:  Bonjour, Madame, bienvenue. It’s lovely to chat with you today.

VIVIENNE:  Bonjour, Robin. I believe it totally fitting for you to address me by my given name. You did give it to me, after all.

rem:  You grew up on Saisons Plantation. Tell us what that was like.

VIVIENNE:  Oh my goodness. I was born the year after the war started. My first memory is Papá announcing freedom to all the Negroes. He gathered us all under the great oak tree—the one with the swing now—and told them that any who wished were free to go.

rem:  What a poignant moment.

VIVIENNE:  Oh, it was indeed.

rem:  What a tremendous thing your father did. I’m sure they were grateful for their freedom.

VIVIENNE:  smiles They were, Robin. But none of them left Saisons. They all stayed with us and were paid servants instead.

rem:  I recall how benevolent your papá was.

VIVIENNE:  He was kind to all.

rem:  You and your husband run the plantation now, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Henry has a passion for the tea and rice.

rem:  You have a special blend of tea. How did that come about?

VIVIENNE:  laughs When Eti and Gérard and I were small, we were playing at making tea, using pecans.

rem:  How inventive you were.

VIVIENNE:  We were small. We used what we could. laughs We also made pies from mud.

rem:  Who’s idea was it to use pecans?

VIVIENNE:  sighs Eti’s. She always was most inventive.

rem:  I understand you and she were close.


rem:  Can you tell me about her.

VIVIENNE:  hesitates, takes deep breath She was a ray of sunshine, a bundle of joy. No one didn’t love her.

rem:  You had the same birthday didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  smiles Yes. She arrived the day I turned three. Just months before the war ended.

rem:  She followed after you wherever you went.

VIVIENNE:  And mimicked everything I ever did.

rem:  Was that annoying to you?

VIVIENNE:  Mercy, no. I delighted in it.

rem:  pause She died a very tragic death. Can you tell us what happened?

VIVIENNE:  She was pushed. We all knew it. She was in her wheelchair, and fell from the balcony outside her rooms. She couldn’t even stand—she was yet recovering from another fall.

rem:  Also not an accident, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Suzi was so tiny but she saw… She didn’t know who it was, and couldn’t describe very well.

rem:  You knew who it was though, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  Yes. We all knew. It was Lissette Fontaine.

rem:  Vivienne, I’m so sorry.

VIVIENNE:  Thank you. Please forgive my temper. After all this time… I forgave the woman, but it still pains me.


rem:  You raised her girls, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  loud sigh Yes, I did. They were a delight.

rem:  Where was their papá, Monsieur Rowan?

VIVIENNE:  closes eyes She seduced him. And then ran off—and took our dear Simone.

rem:  Dear Vivienne, you have suffered great loss.

VIVIENNE:  We all did. Violet stopped talking, Suzi became most belligerent. They both had nightmares. pauses We adjusted, though. They are now delightful young women.

rem:  A change for you, I’m sure, after raising three boys.

VIVIENNE:  laughs Most certainly different.

rem:  Vivienne, I thank you for chatting with me today. My condolences on your losses.

VIVIENNE:  I thank you, Robin. And it has been my pleasure.









The pursed expression on Eléanore’s face was most entertaining. Clearly she viewed Violet’s mute tongue as a deficiency, and her ability to communicate using her hands as some sort of sacrilege.

            Violet looked to Vivienne, who signed back to her that all was well, and to dismiss the vieille vache. The old cow.

            Vivienne smiled quite demurely, laughing most gaily with her amber eyes. Violet smiled large and satisfied.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Vivienne Hampton, Lissette Fontaine


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“Exactly, Pearl.” Simone tapped her head with her finger. “You are a lady, and the degenerate rake likes ladies.”

If it were not for Scarlett and his treatment of her, I would wonder of his reputation. What I knew of his beloved first wife… Perhaps he grieved so deeply… Something was amiss, I felt it.

“Well Merc surely can’t go. He won’t acknowledge her station.” Pearl turned from the window, rubbing the chill from her arms. “And you can’t go. He thinks you’re dead.” For all her grace and etiquette Pearl sometimes had no tact.

It dawned on us all at the same moment—Simone would be the one to deliver the watch to Fontaine, precisely because he thought her dead—dressed in gray and white with ashes smeared over her face and arms—she would pose as a ghost.

We arranged a time, after Simmie’s 1:00 feeding, and I crept down the stairs. It was a new house so there were no creaky steps. My feet absorbed the plush cushion of the velvety carpet and I slipped on my old work boots on the stoop as raindrops flicked the ground.

Shrouded in a black riding cloak, Simone had donned her costume and followed me out the door. She had spent much time barefoot as a child, and the habit had carried to her adult life. I wondered for a fleeting moment did her time in the village influence her preference.

Tonight she wore no shoes.

Pearl and I both were garbed all in black, my pale hair tightly coiled beneath a black wrap. No hats, only our dresses and cloaks, both against the damp chill and to veil our presence.

Without le bébé inside me, I moved as lithely as Simone. Pearl was light on her feet, but not in the dark and not along the bank of the canal. Tonight would not be the time for her to repeat her episode and fall into the muddy water.

Pearl had sent a message to Scarlett with instruction that it be delivered directly into her hand. If Scarlett was unavailable, Tierney was to read it. Tierney was fond of Pearl and would do whatever she required, no questions asked.

The door was not only unlocked, but stood open. Not a single light flickered, and no shadows evidenced themselves; it was utter darkness. Pearl and I slipped our shoes off and tucked them in a bin by the door.

I led the way by virtue of my former status and therefore, my familiarity with the stairs and passageways as they turned and twisted. As a younger woman, I had visited with Abigail and Harley. Abby and I were dear friends still.

The stairs and hallways were something out of a medieval tale, veering off, hallways offset, alcoves with stairs that climbed upward but no corresponding steps descending. Fontaine had even specified a tower, six stories high, but the room at the top was unbearable in the summer heat. I remembered tales of someone dying in the heat in that room while locked in.

Also cloaked in black, Scarlett waited in an alcove at the end of the passage. She knew a trick to open the door without making a sound. I cast a chastising glance at her. Of all of us, she was at greatest risk. If Fontaine awoke and saw any of us other than Simone, he would have all our necks, regardless of our station or our wealth, or even that Simone had his precious watch.

I knew from talking to Scarlett that Fontaine slept alone unless he had company in his bed. His pitiful wife was abandoned to her apartments, living as much in solitude as Madame Marchand, though not of her own choosing. I knew also that he drank heavily of his whiskey of an evening till he passed out. We used this knowledge to our advantage.

Scarlett had not been part of our planning but she offered what was at once the greatest proposition and the most dangerous—Simone would ride on her shoulders giving even greater impression of a visiting specter. She carried Simone with ease.

Fontaine had an enormous bed with massive columns at the corners. The ceiling was coffered above, and heavy drapes enclosed the space. Scarlett said they were always tied back; it wasn’t cold enough in South Carolina to ever draw them closed. Pearl and I padded to the sides and loosed the ties, the drapes casting the bed and its drunken occupant in utter dark.

Next we drew the windows open, the chill breeze blustering through. My blood ran cold as Fontaine’s gravelly voice rumbled. We all held still as the statue in the square, and I wondered I didn’t faint away from holding my breath.

He muttered something about Sessy and the fire. My skin crawled.

He gargled and wheezed, then it sounded like a wild beast as he settled into slumbered snoring.

I released my breath and resisted the urge to drop to my knees in prayerful thanks.

We had brought candles, and Pearl and I now lit them, placing them on three tables between the windows, away from drapes and wind so they’d neither be extinguished nor catch the drapes ablaze, but would cast shadows with the movement of the wind. We then slid to the wall at the head of the bed and whispered hushed moans, high and plaintive.

Fontaine mumbled again, calling out for Sessy.

Then he saw her and he shrieked like Pearl had when Simone had killed a cotton mouth one summer when we had been dipping our feet in the canal. I feared his staff might awaken and come to his aid; I didn’t realize they would neither hear him nor care if they did.

He sputtered and muttered, and like the character in the Charles Dicken’s tale, begged the spirit to leave him be.

Simone raised an ash-smeared white hand and pointed at him. I couldn’t see him but imagined him to be trembling, clutching the covers to his chin. I could, however, hear his piteous whimpers and felt a fleeting sense of pity. We had banked on the man’s superstitious nature and his lack of interest in all things godly and I now felt we were taking cruel advantage. I knew because Scarlett had told me, he was deathly afraid of ghosts—and here we were perpetrating our ruse with the very thing he feared most in life.

Pearl and I increased our wailing, and so too, did Fontaine. Simone held her position, her accusing finger seeming to reach right into his soul.

When I thought the man could bear no more—truly when I thought I could bear no more—Simone pulled her hand back inside her cloak and pulled the hood over her face. I was by the windows and extinguished the candles, then dropped them to the ground below. Still moaning soft and low, Pearl and I padded to the end of the bed and released the ties at the end, then we left the room quickly and silently, slamming the door behind us and leaving Fontaine bellowing like a wounded bear.

Scarlett led us to a secret stairway and we made our hasty exit. She had said she would retrieve the candles from the ground. We took no time for friendly affection in parting but knew we’d not risk coming to see Scarlett for several days at least.

“Did you leave it?”

Even in the dark, I knew the expression on Simone’s face. “Of course I left it Pearl.”

“I know you did.” Pearl’s breath was ragged. This was the most daring thing she had done in her pampered life. “I was so scared.”

“We all were, Pearl.” I caught just the movement, and that more of a whisper of sound, but I knew Simone had taken Pearl’s hand in hers.

We walked in silence for some minutes. It was the middle of the night and the darkness was eerie, perhaps spookier because of what we had just done.

I was a woman now of seven and twenty years, a wife and mother. I was no longer the adventuresome adolescent I had once been. I made my decisions based on prayer and deliberation, not whimsy or irrational diversion. What had we just done? What were we thinking?


The southern town of Saisons lies at the crossroads between North and South, progressive and genteel antebellum life. Between East and West, between history and heritage, and new frontiers. Downton Abbey meets Gone With the Wind.


It’s 1912, in a world where slavery is dying and women’s rights are rising, and four young women who once shared a bond—and experienced a tragedy—question their own truths.


Mercedes has always been an avid reader and devours each new Sherlock Holmes mystery as soon as she gets her hands on them. When one of her friends comes to her, Mercedes vows to keep Simone’s secrets and uncover the truth.


But as Mercedes plays detective to her friends’ questions, she discovers something far more shocking—she herself is not who she thought she was.



#Blogwords, Special Edition, The Long Shadows of Summer, Excerpt, Release Feature

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There can be more than comfort in food… 

What could well-known and wealthy Graham Cooper Jr. have in common with a blogger like Sloane Bradley, a woman with secrets she’s kept firmly out of the public eye? That is, besides a love of food. Sloane still can’t believe Cooper’s the chef at the restaurant she’s been assigned to promote. But she’s boiling to prove to him that her “little blog” can put his place on the map. She can also fall head over heels for the guy, who has secrets of his own, it turns out…except for one thing. She can’t get past the post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps her walled up in her home studio.


He’d arranged a bouquet of colored pens in a chunky ceramic mug printed with the Simone logo. Paper clips, Post-it notes and bigger notepads were lined neatly in one corner, arranged by color. A flutter of picture-perfect giddiness set loose in Sloane’s stomach. Bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes occupied the other corner.

“It’s not much, but—”

“It’s perfect.”

Their eyes held for less than a second, charged with a rushing revelation for Sloane.

Cooper had been paying attention. And, despite all the weirdness, he got her.


rem:   Hullo Laurie! Congratulations on your new(ish) book! (which I loved by the way!) If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

LAURIEI rather like right now! If I could transplant my life to Colorado Springs or Seattle seamlessly (and adjust for cost of living), I love those two cities!

rem:   Both beautiful locations! Where did you find this story idea?

LAURIEIt started with the idea to have a food blogger for a main character, one whose life was much different off screen than as portrayed on her website. I’m a huge fan of food bloggers and will fall for a pretty food photo (and run straight to the grocery store to make it). J

rem:   Loved how you wove the aspects of blogging and food prep into the fabric of the story. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

LAURIE: The story started with Sloane, but Cooper ended up taking over. He was the easiest to write, surprisingly. His father was the hardest. I kept trying to make him more of a villain than my chosen genre allowed.

rem:   He was a tough cookie, and you did that well. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

LAURIEWhite cheddar popcorn and an iced unsweet Arnold Palmer (lemonade + unsweet tea) for sure.

rem:   Yummm to the popcorn, not so much to the beverage… What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

LAURIECatch up on all the books and all the sleep and all the vegetable consumption, of course!

rem:   I like the vegetable consumption bit! Congrats again on entering the world of authors! Well done!


Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her stories are fueled by faith, steaming mugs of tea, and her belief that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking with her two little sous chefs and testing new recipes on her husband—especially if she doesn’t have to do the dishes.

Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurieTomlinson or her website, www.laurietomlinson.com.


1 – A stick of Irish butter, cubed into tiny uniform squares. Half-cup portions of white sugar, brown sugar, glittering in the light. And the star of the show, a mixture of chocolate chips and crumbled homemade toffee that was good enough to eat with a spoon. All showcased in sherbet-colored ceramic pinch pots and bowls from the flea market.


2 – His words became more flavored with French as he spoke, as if saturated by the remnant of this woman in his mind.


3 – Cooper recognized the pain in her eyes like he was looking into a mirror. Yes, he was very

familiar with the kind of grief that sneaks up on you. With the dark, smothering bag it throws over your head and the way it pushes you into the back of a moving van.


4 – She scanned the room for Cooper and started when she found him looking directly at her. Whoa. She felt like a dunk-tank seat had plunged her into water.


5 – “À la bonne heure.” Cooper could almost hear the words Simone often told him as she poured tea into his mug. “In good time.” Had his time finally arrived?


6 – But some time while he was in Paris, Marian had become a different person. He’d returned stateside to a full-color version of the woman who’d been living in black-and-white when he left.


7 – This was an unfamiliar intersection—memories of Aaron that made her laugh?


8 – But Sloane was aware. Aware of a strange, comforting feeling that was a night-and-day contrast to the pain. To the numbness. Was this what peace felt like? It’d been so long that it was hard for her to recognize it when it sneaked up on her.


9 – “No, Cooper.” Sloane aimed a razor-sharp glare at him, but her lower lip trembled. “You don’t understand. You can’t even begin to understand.”


10 – …can you be free if you won’t forgive yourself?”


11 – That sacred juncture between past and present was a powerful departure from the vicious cycle her life had been. The hand in hers was the love that had taught her to breathe again.


Wow! What a story!


Sloane Bradley is trapped and emotionally broken by a past tragedy. She had her life in order, a very controlled order, and she likes it that way.


Graham Cooper Jr. ran from his past, trading one destructive habit for workaholic. But as his new restaurant nears opening, his passion for cooking sizzles—and for a certain food and promotion blogger.


Both determined that they’re the last thing the other needs, Sloane and Cooper resist the attraction that simmers between them. But will their pasts put a sweet future in deep freeze? Or can they discard expired emotions and stir up a new recipe for happiness?



Ms. Tomlinson’s dialogue sparkles, her writing jumps off the page pulling the reader right in. Emotions are real, and raw, and I could taste the pain and longing. I felt the taunting burn of a past that won’t leave them alone, and the anticipation of hope that maybe the tragedies have reached their expiration date. I felt the need to hang onto the familiar and the longing to taste something new. Ms. Tomlinson has a secret recipe for story telling and it makes a delightful dish.



I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.




#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, With No Reservations, Laurie Tomlinson

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Tara McDermott needed a job, so she took the only thing available—cleaning house for the swoon-worthy actor, and Hollywood Bad Boy, Rick Shade. When he comes up with a crazy plan to tame his wild reputation by marrying her, she reluctantly agrees so she can pay off her debts and move her daughter back to the Midwest where life is simpler. If only he wouldn’t make her heart pound every time he kisses her.

Rick’s reputation is in the toilet and it’s affecting his job. In order to get a good role, he needs to show Hollywood he’s now a family man. After enticing Tara with a large sum of money to go through with the farce, he sets out to show the public he’s in love. But Tara’s soft lips keep calling to him and soon he doesn’t know what’s pretend and what’s real.


Acting Married is a sweet romance.


She wanted to say something about Rick and his own relationship issues, but Tara stuffed the words down her throat. She didn’t want to get into another fight with him. She gazed out over the ocean and forced herself to calm down. It wasn’t a good idea to overreact. That only lead to embarrassment.

Rick sighed. “I’m sorry. I stuck my nose where it shouldn’t have been. If you don’t want to go visit your parents, I’ll call Phil back and tell him it’s off.”

“No,” she said, touching his arm. “It’s okay. Maybe we could go see them.”

He slid his arm around her and pulled her to his chest. “I won’t let him hurt you again,” he whispered, then he pressed his lips to the top of her head.

She snuggled into him, ignoring the little voice telling her not to get so close to Rick Shade. “I know,” she said, her voice barely audible. Rick would do everything in his power to protect her and Kylee.

He wrapped both arms around her and she could smell his scent. A tiny hint of cologne mixed with a smell that was unique to Rick. Her heart beat faster.

He pulled back from her. “You know, if we were really married, I’d kiss you right now.” His voice sounded raspy.

She looked up at him. “We are really married. I saw the paperwork.”

His gaze dropped to her lips. “Then I guess I have to.”

“Probably wouldn’t be right if you didn’t.”

He leaned closer, stopping only a breath away from her lips. “I hope those onions I ate earlier don’t ruin the kiss.”

“I’ll let you know if your breath is hideous by making little choking noises as we kiss.”

His lips twitched. “Thanks,” he said before he closed the gap. His soft lips teased hers, and she closed her eyes. His hand reached around her neck, pulling her closer, his thumb caressing her cheek. The kiss deepened and she lost all thought about what he’d eaten for lunch. Her skin tingled with his touch. She could easily melt into the sand and die a happy person.

“What are you doing, Mommy?” Kylee came bounding up to them, spraying sand on Tara’s legs. She reluctantly pulled back.

“Kylee! Come here!” Amanda ran up to Kylee and picked her up. “I’m sorry, she got away from me.”

Tara felt a blush creep up to her cheeks. “It’s fine.”

“Look at this!” Kylee said, holding up a seashell. Part of it had broken, revealing the intricate spiral on the inside.

Rick examined it. “That’s awesome.”

“Great find,” Tara said, putting her hand up to shield her eyes from the sun.

“Let’s go look for more treasures,” Amanda said, holding out her hand. Kylee ran to her.

Rick turned toward Tara. “Where were we?”

Unfortunately, reality had set in and the moment was gone. She shouldn’t be kissing Rick, not when their relationship had an expiration date. She needed to remember that even though the marriage certificate was real, what they had was fake.

“I was just about to tell you to keep it light on the onions next time.”

His smile vanished. “Seriously?” He cupped his hand in front of his mouth and huffed into it, then sniffed.

Guilt made her stomach clench. The look on his face made it worse. He grimaced, like he’d just had one of his most embarrassing moments. She couldn’t let him continue to think he had onion breath.

She laughed, trying to keep it light. “I’m just kidding.”

His mouth dropped open and he poked her in the side. “I’m going to get you good for that one.”

Before she knew it, he was on top of her, his knees straddling her sides, his fingers tickling under her ribs. She fell back against the sand and laughed, squirming to get away, but she couldn’t. His fingers skimmed over her skin, making her laugh so hard she could barely breathe.

“Tickle me next!” Kylee said.

Rick finally relented, climbing off her and going after Kylee. Her daughter screamed and laughed as he chased her in the sand. Anyone watching would have thought he was her father. The thought made her blink back tears.

This, too, would end.

Victorine enjoys commercial success through her writing, thanks in part to her ability to analyze and adapt to the constantly changing trends in today’s publishing environment. She self-published her first book, Not What She Seems, in April of 2010. In March of 2011, Not What She Seems began its 6 week run on The New York Times best selling eBook list. By May 2011 she had sold over 100,000 copies. Victorine’s first romantic comedy novel, Accidentally Married, hit the USA Today Best selling books list in January 2015. Victorine is a graphic designer as well, and can be hired for book cover design.






He pulled up his social media accounts on the computer and tapped the desk with his index finger. What should he post that would hint at things to come?


If this were a Jane Austin movie, there’d be a lot of swooning going on. She reminded herself that putting a suit on a pig didn’t make it a man.


Kylee patted his arm. “The trees are tired today.”

He looked out the window. “What?”

“Theyr’re tired. See? They aren’t flapping today.”

Rick wasn’t sure what she meant. “Flapping?”

“The leaves were flapping yesterday, making wind. But they need to rest today. They worked hard yesterday.”


Desperate times call for desperate measures.


Tara McDermott thought taking a job as a maid was desperate. After her failed marriage to one aspiring actor the last thing she wanted was to be in the employ of another actor. Even if he was a big-time star.


Rick Shade has a reputation he needs to clean up for the press. And when his new maid spills coffee on him, he takes his agents crazy idea and runs with it. And Tara would give anything to just be the maid again.


Problem is, they may be pretending but the feelings are real. Problem is, neither of them realizes the other one feels the same way.



Ms. Lieske has once again taken an absurd notion and turned it into a delightful romance. Her characters have depth and conflict even as they try to run from their own feelings. They pull into their false romance, just to the brink of dropping all pretense, then like the tide, they rush away again. His story stirs conflict as it abrades against hers. Will they erode away all pretense? Or will they erode away any chance of love?



I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.



#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Acting Married, Victorine Lieske


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*This is a romantic comedy with a Christian worldview.

Allegra Spencer has been living a careful life. Her safe job as an accountant is bookended by going to church and the gym. Okay, sometimes the gym. Fine. She goes to church. And the coffee shop. She avoids risk at all cost, preferring to stay safe in her cozy condo. Until her accounting firm goes belly up and she’s out of a job.

Tyler Hawk had a glorious career as a star NFL tight end. He retired on a high note and now lives a second dream of owning his own business and leading others on extreme outdoor adventures. But he needs help with his books—and his heart. When Allegra takes the job, sparks fly.

It’s a case of safety zone versus danger zone, and in their minds, never the two shall meet.


“Here’s your caramel macchiato, Allegra.”

She watched as Jael slid the cup into a sleeve. Allegra wrapped her hand around it, proud of herself for taking a step outside her comfort zone from her regular Kit Kat latté. She turned…


“My coffee!” Did she really just yell for her coffee, more worried about it than the man she’d known was close behind her?

Something was wrong with her.

She snorted. No. She just loved her coffee. Though the man currently gripping her upper arms in his strong hands…

“I…” The words died on her lips as she peered up into lush green eyes gazing down at her. “Sorry,” she squeaked.

The man looked down at her hand, still holding tight to her latté. “No harm done. Looks like the barista put the lid on tight.”

Allegra glanced over her shoulder at Jael, who was standing behind the counter watching them with a grin on her face.

“You’re welcome.” Jael lifted a brow, tilting her head to the man.

Allegra rolled her eyes. Though if it meant the guy talking to her, she’d have to remember to slide Jael a big tip.

A very big tip.


MIKAL:   Thank you so much for having me, Robin!! ❤

rem:   Hullo, Mikal, I’m so happy to have you here today. If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

MIKAL:   Oh, that is such a hard question! If I knew I would be safe and it would be as romantic as Tamara Leigh makes it sound, I would so go back to the medieval period. As long as I got to be nobility, that is. If not the medieval time, then for sure the Regency period. As long as I got to be nobility. I was meant to live in a castle. I just know it.

rem:   I’m right there with ya, girlfriend. Where did you find this story idea?

MIKAL:   I was in a course and part of the assignment was to write a sentence for each part of a story. We were given a character name (which has since changed), and I thought I’d read that the character was an accountant (I’ve since gone back and can’t find that). I wrote a few sentences for the assignment and had a couple of people email me and say they’d like to read that story. And here we are!

rem:   Story ideas truly are anywhere and everywhere. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

MIKAL:   Oh man. The easiest character by far was Allegra. She is so much like me, it’s scary. LOL! From the coffee to the klutz. Yeah. Me. The most difficult character to write was definitely Tyler. Probably because I’m not a man, so had a hard time making sure he was a man with male thoughts, speech, and actions. I’m so thankful for excellent critique partners!

rem:   Methinks, perhaps that’s the hardest to write for all of us—characters of the opposite gender. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

MIKAL:   You mean, what’s beside me right at this very moment? LOL! Coffee. And strawberry Australian licorice. Oh wow, I love that stuff. I also chow down on pita chips and hummus. And red Starbursts. Not all at the same time, of course.

rem:   Yay to coffee, gick to licorice (or any kind) and yay to red Starbusts. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

MIKAL:   Can I admit that I cry? Because I do. I cry. Writing is such an emotional roller coaster that it’s a relief when it’s finished. Months of research, work, dreaming, and strained wrists and fingertips culminate in another dream coming true. After that, my husband takes us all out for dinner and we celebrate mum’s return to humanity! 😊

rem:   At least until you stumble down another story hole… Mikal congrats on an amazing book! Thanks for being on the blog today!


Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast and proud military wife. By day she works for an international sports ministry, and by night she mutters to imaginary friends, performs sketchy Google searches, and procrastinates (like any good writer!). When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Born and raised just outside of Vancouver, Canada, Mikal lived throughout the southern United States, before moving to Nebraska (and loving it!) with her husband, three kids, and one ferocious feline.


  • “They were oil and vinegar, chocolate and green beans…Seahawks and 49ers.”
  • “It was time for a change. The evening air carried the scent of Seattle. The faint brine from the ocean mixed with exhaust and a spring shower. Change. The city was always changing, so why not her?”
  • “Thank You, Jesus, for whomever discovered the coffee bean could be ground into such sustaining energy.”
  • Could the floor actually open up and swallow her whole? That would be preferable to standing there, facing her new employer after hitting him.
  • Back off. BACK OFF! Red lights flashed in Tyler’s mind. If the robot from Lost in Space were there, he’d be repeating, “Warning, warning. Danger” in all his theatrical glory.
  • She was wound up tighter than the Ace bandages his sports therapist had wrapped Tyler’s ankle in before games. And that had left his toes blue.
  • He wanted her to experience the confidence that pushing through fear could bring.
  • “You’re missing out on life, Allie. ‘There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.’ Straight from the Bible, dear sister. Mic drop.”
  • Tyler grasped her hand—only to have the touch sting and exhilarate him like he’d just caught a twenty-yard driveline pass.
  • Cracks of weakness were breaking open, and he didn’t like it. Allegra tore through every wall he’d built up over the years…


  1. Count Me In was originally titled Catch Me until a writing contest. Two of the three judges mentioned the title wouldn’t grab them or make them pick the book up. It turned out to be for the best, because the other two books in this series have fallen into place so nicely and will look great alongside Count Me In!
  2. One day in church, I met a younger woman and I’m pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head. She looked exactly like Allegra! So much so, I almost freaked out. Once I got to know her a little, I had intended to hire a photographer and use this woman as Allegra for a cover shoot. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t work out (I put all my money into editing, so didn’t have much left over to pay for the photography shoot). It turned out well, though! I ended up designing the cover myself, and I’m thrilled with it. It’s different from most other covers, which made me nervous, but so far it’s been well-received!
  3. The Kit Kat lattés talked about in the book are, in fact, real. I make them here at home and I looooove them.
  4. If you’re involved in the Christian blogging/publishing industry, even as fans, you might recognize a few names in Count Me In. Especially the accounting firm in the last quarter of the book. 😉 (rem: yes, I did notice that)
  5. I indie-published this book, but did so by creating my own publishing company, 121 Publishing House. 121 is for Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes up to the heavens; where does my help come from?” It’s my mum’s favorite, and I wanted to honor her somehow. This felt right.
  6. Tyler Hawk, Allegra’s hero, is a former Seattle Seahawk. That would be because I’m a HUGE Seahawks fan!!
  7. When I write, it needs to be utterly silent. If my family is home, or I’m out in public at a coffeeshop, I wear ear plugs. Yes. Ear plugs. I need to drown out the noise so I can better concentrate. I get distracted waaaay too easily.
  8. I do have a writing companion: my cat, Leo, gets comfortable laying across my legs when I’m on the couch with my computer on my lap. He’s fluffy (a silver, long-haired Siberian), and by “fluffy,” I mean both in fur and weight. Ha!
  9. For research, I used YouTube quite a bit for the adventure scenes. I love using it to get a feel for the action and what (and how) things are seen, but also for the audible picture, such as what would the wind sound like when parasailing? Would I hear birds above the rush of white waters when rafting? All that fun stuff.
  10. The next book in this collection is focusing on Bo and Story. I can’t wait to share their history with you all! (rem: i KNEW it!!!)


OH | MY | GOODNESS!! Such a fun story!


When control freak Allegra Spencer meets out of control Tyler Hawk, both their safety nets begin to unravel.


Thread by thread and layer by layer, the fear that has snugged her safe and sound. Till that one thread snagged loose. And like any web, the harder she tries to stay safe in its embrace, the more it sloughs away.


Tyler Hawk, however, ripped through every safety net his parents tried to wrap him up in. He broke records, he achieved the unachievable, he proved them wrong. Over and over.

So what was he still running from?



Ms. Dawn brings two forces together—unmovable meets the unstoppable—and wraps a sweet and funny story around it. Her dialogue absolutely sparkles, and character emotions run the gamut. I wanted to kick Allegra in the shins even as I felt her fears; I wanted to knock some sense into Tyler’s hard head as he did what he thought she needed—push her out of her safety shell. My heart broke every time they danced close to the flame… and then away again.

Well done, Ms. Dawn, on a stellar debut novel. I’m looking forward to your sophomore story.



I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.




#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Count Me In, Mikal Dawn

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BLOGWORDS – Wednesday 28 June 2017 – SPECIAL EDITION – LOOKING GLASS LIES and SHAMING – PART II – the great clean up… continues





It’s a work in progress, and here’s the latest.


If it looks like a “spot the difference” puzzle, maybe it is. Blankets and sheets got folded from first pic to second. Box on the left in top pic was sorted through, the majority of which went in the trash, a few to the shredable, and the remaining in the smaller box in the second pic. The detritus on the floor is paper scraps from said large box, some by aging, some from cats who love to claw the corrugated box. (another reason i’m getting rid of all corrugation!)


The piles of boxes have come from the spare / guest room, the smaller ones of which are for shipping copies of my books. (anyone wanna copy???) the laundry basket was sorted and moved back in the bedroom. (that’s kinda perpetual) Oh, and the string n stuff??  Kitty toys of course!!


From this:


to this:

forgot to get the pic earlier…


The green and yellow trays will get a coat of ModPodge and find a home in my office-nest.


I also got some sorting done in the kitchen. I have four 16” wooden cubes that I use as my microwave stand, and food cupboard. I rearranged and organized that and now it’s much easier access (cans were on the bottom, very hard to get to.)

Not sure why I have so many cake mixes…  One, though, is brownie mix—might need to make those as my reward!!!  nom nom nommy nom  #chocolate




#Blogwords, Special Edition, Looking Glass Lies and Shaming, The Great Clean Up, #vulnerable, #4Nina, #ShameonShanty, #BEYOUChallenge, #IMATTER, #IAMWORTHIT, #dreamhouse, #ONLYGOD, A Work in Progress




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For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.


I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet. Again. For a moment, I enjoyed the wispy memory of a not-yet-forgotten dream, but then I realized the plush carpet had become solid rock while I slept, its gritty fibers pressing against me as though I were wedged into a sandstone crevice instead of willingly tucked against the back wall beneath my hanging clothes.

Pressing my palm against the ivory carpet, I dragged myself out of the corner, sat in front of the mirror, and squared my shoulders as though I no longer needed to hide from reality. As though I’d be all right without Brett. As though his divorce papers fit neatly into my fairy tale.

“You can handle this,” I said to my reflection. In a few short hours, I could start a new day, build a new life, create a new me.

I could go back home and start over. People in my hometown wouldn’t be surprised things hadn’t worked out between Brett and me—they had said as much when we’d started dating in high school. After a while I could settle into the complacent solace of small-town life, lick my wounds, and become invisible among the laid-back community that Brett had always deemed unsophisticated.

“You go, girl.” I lifted my chin, but the girl in the mirror didn’t seem convincing.

No matter. That’s what I would do tomorrow . . . or next week . . . or maybe next month. Okay, so it might take a while, but at least it was a plan. And it was a heck of a lot better than crying in a closet. Like a baby.


rem:   Hullo Varina, congratulations on your new book! What a powerful story! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

VARINA:   I’d love to visit Europe around 1800, but only for a day or so. Actually, I’d like to step directly into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Wouldn’t that be fun? But not for long … no indoor plumbing or central air. 😊

rem:   Right, for all the romance portrayed, some bits were not so lovely… (can I go with you?) Where did you find this story idea?

VARINA:   I’ve struggled with low self-esteem for years, so the idea for Looking Glass Lies came from my own journey. However, the specific details of Cecily’s life are nothing like my own. Instead, her plot is a combination of sad twists that I’ve heard about over the years.

rem:   Then you know why this resonates so with me. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

VARINA:   Cecily was the easiest because I totally “get” the whole self-esteem thing. Marinda was the most difficult, probably because of my insecurities when I’m around strikingly beautiful people. It took me a while to relate to her.

rem:   See above response… It took me years of progress to reach “low” self-esteem… What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

VARINA:   Granola bars, apples and peanut butter, nuts, sugar-free chocolate

rem:   Oh such discipline! Oh so healthy! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

VARINA:   I sleep late, catch-up on house cleaning, and redirect my creative energy toward all the Pinterest projects I’ve been putting off while on deadline.

rem:   What lovely recovery treatment! Thank you again, Varina, for visiting my blog—and for writing your wonderful stories.


Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, releases in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.


LGL book trailer: https://youtu.be/L4K-bolCE2k









  • Not only did I still believe the lies … they consume me, heart and soul. – Cecily Ross
  • The barbed wire tattoo, coiling and circling my arm, was just like his vibrant personality that had tightened around my heart until it drew blood. – Cecily Ross
  • I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet again, while my husband slept soundly in our pillow-top king, just on the other side of the closet door. Good grief, I had to stop doing this. – Cecily Ross
  • He pressed his cheek against my forehead. “Your heart is full of love for Nina, and disgust for the people who hurt her, but still … you need to pay attention to what’s happening in there.” He tapped my chest. “Respect your feelings.” – Cecily Ross and Graham Harper
  • I wanted to tell him I was sorry, that I had been a silly fool, that I understood now. But none of that mattered, and for the first time, I could truly say, This is not about me. – Cecily Ross
  • Shanty looked the same, but different. Her creamy brown skin (a mixture she got from her African American father and Asian American mother) was set off by frosted makeup. I had forgotten how pretty she was, but surprisingly, I didn’t find her intimidating. – Cecily Ross
  • I hated that phone. Despised it. It was full of videos Brett didn’t want me to see, websites he claimed he hadn’t visited, pictures he made certain I never had access to. I couldn’t compete with all that. Evidently. – Cecily Ross


A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.


Few books have impacted me as deeply as this one. What woman, at some time in her life, has not looked in the mirror and questioned something, everything? And what woman has not believed those lies, at least once…


Cecily Ross believed those lies. Not only when she looked in the mirror, but every time her husband looked through her. Every time he looked at “perfect” images online. The scars on her body were not at his hand, but her own.

Through the strength of desperation, Cecily flees her marriage and returns to her home town. But solace eludes her—the lies have followed her and her battle continues.


Will the encouragement of her father and an old friend be enough to pull Cecily from the mire of self-hate? Will the support group help her see past the lies to the truth? The truth that all women are beautiful?


The story and characters on the pages are fictional but the reality of it is not. Cecily—and Shanty and Nina—could be any woman. The depth of the wounds is very real and this reviewer knows the devastation of self-hate. Ms. Denman has portrayed Cecily’s story in a very real light, the struggle she faces with every thought, the determination to get better—and the hopelessness of the seeming impossible effort.

This reviewer—I have overcome this battle but at random moments those thoughts creep up, trying to take me down again. I am armed with the Word of God—I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I am His masterpiece, created in His image—in my arsenal. And I take that stand for every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and believed the lies.



I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.


#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #forNina, Shame on Shanty


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